Labour MSP Foulkes defends Lords expenses claim of £54,500

LABOUR MSP George Foulkes yesterday defended his expenses claim of £54,527 at the House of Lords, insisting he was performing a worthwhile job as a peer of the realm and as an MSP.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock attended the House of Lords 94 times in the last financial year, charging the taxpayer an average of 580 for each day of parliamentary business there.

He claimed 21,014 for overnight stays in London, which he used to finance his flat in the capital.

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He also claimed 7,626 for meals and incidental travel expenses not covered by his 16,327 travel allowance, 9,474 for office costs and 86 for postage costs.

But he is also a Holyrood list MSP. His expenses there were just 3,649.

Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said: "I am astonished that he feels he can do these two jobs in two different places at once. It is quite remarkable.

"As MSPs, we have enough to do and our jobs should be focused on serving our constituents in Scotland and Edinburgh, whether you are a constituency or list MSP."

He added: "Lord Foulkes really should be concentrating on his work in Scotland or his work in the Lords. I don't think there should be dual mandate MSPs in the Scottish Parliament."

But Lord Foulkes pointed out that he was helping oversee the work of MI5 and MI6 as a member of the Intelligence and Security Services Committee at Westminster.

He added: "This is important work. I work very hard to keep people under scrutiny. I have no worries about this at all."

Figures released by the House of Lords also showed that Lord Watson of Invergowrie, the former Labour minister and MSP who was convicted of fire-raising, claimed 42,805 for attending the House of Lords on 129 days in the last financial year.

Pete Wishart, an SNP MSP, said: "It is scandalous that Lord Watson is allowed to continue grandstanding at the public expense in the Lords."